INDEPENDENT NEWS

NIWA scientists working under the ice in Antarctica

Published: Mon 6 Oct 2014 02:55 PM
One of NIWA's specialist divers attaching a chamber under the ice in Antarctica during the first phase of the ocean acidification research.
Photo: Peter Marriott.
MEDIA RELEASE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2014
NIWA scientists working under the ice in Antarctica
NIWA marine ecologists, including specialist divers, are heading south shortly for the second stage in a range of experiments that take place under the ice in Antarctica.
The experiments involve divers placing specially made chambers on the underside of the ice at Granite Harbour to measure the effects of ocean acidification and warming on sea ice flora and fauna.
In two weeks' time an eight-person team will head to the ice for a month. They will camp on the ice at Granite Harbour, about 150km from Scott Base, for the duration of the experiments.
All the equipment needed for living and working out of tents will be taken by wagon train across the ice from Scott Base, a journey that takes about 24 hours.
Expedition leader and marine ecologist Vonda Cummings said Antarctica New Zealand support staff will set up the camp and melt holes in the ice to enable the divers to access the sea and attach the chambers.
“Granite Harbour has got really good first year sea ice so there are great algal concentrations under the ice with no bumps or cracks that might confound our chamber results.
“It’s also got nice soft sediment underneath which is great for looking at the sea floor at the same time,” Dr Cummings said.
The chambers, designed by NIWA marine ecologist Neill Barr, measure the effects of specific changes on ecosystem processes such as primary production by algae, nutrient dynamics and the delivery of food from the sea ice to the sea floor.
The temperature and acidity of the seawater in the chambers can be manipulated and controlled to determine how climate change and ocean acidification could affect this fragile ecosystem.
Last year, the team were based at Cape Evans where the chambers were used for the first time.
“It was basically a trial to see if we could get good data out of them,” Dr Cummings said.
“They worked really well and were pretty easy to deploy but this time we want to try and do things better. We will be adding a few more instruments to measure a more things but will use the same design.”
The water temperature is about -1.9oC which limits divers to about 40 minutes under the ice at any one time.
The team must radio Scott Base daily to check in but other than that, there is no communication access.
“People can communicate with us through Scott Base if they need to but there is no emailing or Skype.”
Dr Cummings and her team are all experienced at conducting field work at Antarctica and know what to expect.
“It’s just a different way of working; you learn to cope with the cold and we’re working out of tents so there are challenges. We have no idea of what the weather will do – usually there’s a snow storm or two every season, which is not particularly nice but you just stay in your tent and don’t go far.”
A couple of the team members will travel with the wagon train across the ice with the others flying in by helicopter a few days later.
The research, led by Drs Cummings and Drew Lohrer, is funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund and NIWA, with logistical support from Antarctica New Zealand. Analysis of the experiments will take place next year.
A second group of NIWA scientists will travel to Antarctica later in the year to install and maintain atmospheric measuring equipment.

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

Tiwai Deal Gives Time For Managed Transition
By: New Zealand Government
Reserve Bank Responding To Illegal Breach Of Data System
By: The Reserve Bank of New Zealand
New Zealanders Have Their Hopes Up For 2021
By: Horizon Research Limited
Data Use Soars Over New Year’s Eve As Kiwis Stay Connected Digitally
By: Vodafone NZ
Lack Of Competitive Pressure Leads To An Undesirable Trading Situation
By: Electricity Authority
SEEK NZ Employment Report - Strong Job Ad Performance In Quarter Four, Job Ads Up 19% On Quarter Three
By: SEEK
2020: New Zealand’s 7th-warmest Year On Record
By: NIWA
Property Market Set To Cool From Sizzling To Warm In 2021
By: Quotable Value New Zealand
PriceSpy Research Reveals How Shopping Behaviours Have Changed This Christmas
By: PriceSpy
Noel Leeming Group Warned For Making Delivery Representations Without Reasonable Grounds During COVID-19 Lockdown
By: Commerce Commission
Gordon Campbell On The Excessive Secrecy Surrounding Cyber Hacks, And Some Lost Soul Legends
By: Gordon Campbell
Reserve Bank cyber attack: Third party involved can provide clues on info exposed - expert
By: RNZ
Digital Christmas: Online Traffic Spikes As Kiwis Connect With Friends And Whānau Online
By: Vodafone
Greens: Electricity Market Reforms Needed
By: Green Party
Calls For Tough Penalty For Meridian After Watchdog Finding
By: Flick Electric
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media